Re: Agile Management?
This post reflects much of the thinking I have on agile in my software development company, except in our case, management failed to consider our existing products, including their complexity and detailed inter-relationships between each other, as well as customer needs prior to mandating our shift to agile. They simply wanted our monumental software releases to be developed and delivered faster. And, aside from hiring some highly compensated consultants to come in for a week or so, we've been left to figure it out for ourselves...and I believe we're doing it wrong.
While I don't fault agile itself, the implementation of it in our company (a Fortune 500 software company, you probably have heard of) is going on 2 years now, and it has been ugly. Despite the egotistical proclamations of management today, it isn't working well. Some groups stealthily cling to tenets of waterfall (disguised by agile terminology), not because they are 'clinging to old practices' but because of the needs of our customer base and their desire to release software that works. We've had pushback from some large customers on releasing software to them bit by bit. As agile developed features get turned on, it breaks other software they have. I've yet to hear a coherant explanation how adopting agile is benefiting our customers. We are also highly date-driven here as well, both to satisfy our customers as well as our own leadership.
The problem for us is, we're an old locomotive of a company. We have several 25-30 year old software products full of legacy code, that have deep and extremely complicated inter-connections with each other. There are very few people in the company that truly understand how they all work together. Many of those experts were let go so newly minted, young 'agile saavy' developers could be hired. Going 'Agile' here has increased the number of bugs, the number of support cases and the increasing dissatisfaction among the workforce and customer base. Management egos, however, will not allow us to alter agile to make it work for us.
Silos are worse than ever, with the software development teams heads-down working on software to meet some un-bending magical agile release cadences. Inter-organizational communication is close to non-existant, with the custome support, install and training organizations scrambling for bits of information about upcoming releases. As a result, we've had some spectacular failures inside our organization, as well as with customers.
Engaged, educated management is critical, I've learned, to making agile work in an organization. I'm not seeing it here. In the best interest of our customers, I hope egos can be put aside and voices could be heard admitting that 'strict' agile (isn't that a contradiction anyway) may need to be modified for our products and customers.